2. The Century Association (1847)

Photo copyright of Paul Warchol, Courtesy of The Century Association

The Century Association was founded in 1847, evolving from the Sketch Club, a group of artists and writers, The Column, and the Bread and Cheese Club, founded by James Fenimoore Cooper. The club met in various different locations before settling into a clubhouse at 7 West 43rd Street in 1891. (Note: This is our second home, our first was at 109 East 15th Street from 1857 to 1891). The clubhouse, where the Association is still housed today, is a five-story Palazzo-style building designed by the illustrious firm of McKim, Mead, and White.

Today, the club’s membership is made up of two thousand authors, artists, and amateurs of letters and fine arts. To qualify as “amateurs,” individuals may be “of any occupation provided their breadth of interest and qualities of mind and imagination make them sympathetic, stimulating, and congenial companions in a society of authors and artists.” Famous members have included William Cullen Bryant, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Calvert Vaux, Carrère and Hastings, Frederick Law Olmsted, and McKim, Mead & White, among eight former Presidents of the United States (including Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt), 10 Supreme Court Justices, Nobel Prize laureates, and members of the Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, and Astor families. I’d drop the big families! That’s not the big Century preoccupation. The list is a little architect heavy — If you want to diversify we have also counted Winslow Homer, Rudyard Kipling, Kitty Carlise Hart, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Ellison, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Benny Goodman, Dr. Suess, Brook Astor, Thornton Wilder, Edward R. Murrow, Henry James, and Aaron Copland as members.